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US commitment to Iraq will pay off across the Middle East -- and avert a historic error

Both those who supported the surge and those who pressed for withdrawal should support continued US involvement in order to consolidate Iraq's fragile political and security gains. Disengaging now could undermine the entire long-term strategic relationship.

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After seven months of post-election political paralysis and infighting, an Iraqi government of sorts has emerged. And with a government finally in place, the United States and Iraq can now work toward defining their future strategic relationship.

Indeed, there are few more important factors for the long-term strategic contours of the Middle East than America’s relationship with Iraq. But today, there is a serious risk that waning interest in nonmilitary dimensions of US strategy in Iraq may undermine the entire long-term strategic relationship for which both the Bush and Obama administrations have fought.

The Obama administration has already withdrawn nearly 100,000 military forces, and under the terms of the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, the remaining troops are due to depart by the end of next year.

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